New skin cancer prevention plan launched
Around 13,000 new cases of the disease annually
March 24, 2023
A new national skin cancer prevention plan has been launched by the Department of Health.
Skin cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ireland, with around 13,000 new cases each year. This number is projected to double by 2045. However, most cases of the disease can be prevented by following certain behaviours that protect skin.
The new National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan 2023-2026 has been developed by the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) in partnership with Healthy Ireland. Healthcare professionals, cancer charities and other relevant organisations were consulted during the process.
The plan includes a number of actions designed to target specific groups which have been identified as being particularly vulnerable to ultraviolet (UV) damage, such as children, outdoor workers and sunbed users.
“Its core messages will be amplified through the HSE’s annual SunSmart communications campaign which uses a range of platforms to provide targeted key messages about skin protective behaviours,” the department noted.
According to Dr Triona McCarthy, a consultant in public health medicine with the NCCP, this plan represents “a great opportunity to harness the power of workplaces, community groups, recreational groups, healthcare professionals and others to make SunSmart behaviours the norm”.
“It is so important for physical and mental health to enjoy time outdoors but we should do so while also protecting skin from UV radiation to reduce the risk of our most common cancer,” she said.
Bernie Rice became involved with campaigning for skin cancer prevention after losing her daughter Sharon to the disease.
"Malignant melanoma skin cancer took the life of our bright, intelligent daughter Sharon. She was 31 when first diagnosed in 2006. A mole on her leg had changed but it went undetected and she was not aware of the implications of it.
“Eventually she got it checked and was told that it was malignant melanoma. Sharon underwent surgery and had the melanoma removed and made a good recovery. However, the following year the melanoma returned and spread to her lymph nodes. She passed away the following year at the young age of 33,” Ms Rice explained.
However, she emphasised that skin cancer is preventable.
For more information on skin cancer prevention, click here.